Wednesday, February 25, 2015

EPL's Weekend Morning Niche is the Perfect Storm

The EPL has taken the American sports world by storm.

When it was first learned a few years back that the English Premier League would broadcast live action for American television on Saturday and Sunday mornings, most veteran sports pundits didn't think much about it. The idea of EPL making any kind of ratings impact wasn't taken all that seriously.

The three biggest reasons for media members to think that EPL wouldn't fly with the casual American sports fans were;
1) Soccer is only important during the World Cup
2) Foreign leagues would not get the attention because of a lack of familiarity
3) There wouldn't be an audience to watch so early in the mornings.

The prognosticators were wrong on all three accounts.  The ratings for EPL on NBCSN and NBC keep going up.

In fact, now, EPL gets better ratings than the NHL on NBCSN.

The interest in EPL shows that American sports fans like soccer even if its not the World Cup and they will watch a foreign league without significant knowledge for the history of the teams.  The attraction is there because of the high skill level and quality competition.  Ultimately, it is the artistry of the game that pushes sports fans to watch.

As casual sports fans watch EPL, they are surely getting more acquainted with the players, many of which are considered the best in the world.  Certainly, one of the best reasons to watch is this opportunity to see great players play against each other in high-paced action.

But, the biggest catalyst for the unexpected ratings boost is the opening to watch sports in the early mornings on Saturdays and Sundays.  I believe these time slots without any kind of antagonist (sports competition) are the key element that hooks in viewers.  The combination of a popular sport, played at a high quality with great players during a time when a majority of casual sports fans are waking up without having to go anywhere is the perfect storm for a ratings boom-which this is (all things considered).

Golf's British Open tends to have excellent ratings on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  When Tiger Woods was playing his best, the Open was at its most compelling to watch and the ratings proved this out.  Let's not forget about Tennis' Wimbledon and the French Open as proven commodities for their early American weekend sports watching.

Early Saturday and Sunday mornings have been there for the taking on the sports calendar this whole generation and EPL has slithered in.

The niche has been established and now people are finding ways to root for EPL teams that they may not have known much about before.

Rolling out of bed on the weekends has never been better.

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